Introducing Zak Musawi is quasi-unnecessary. Still, for the few in the cultural scene who have been living under a rock, Zak is a local legend. And his star keeps shining brighter.
He plays both the guitar and keyboard; and as a solo singer, he continues to hypnotize audiences at various locales across town. There are only a few local talents who can perform on their own as both a singer and musician simultaneously, and this, along with his haunting voice and talent as a musician and composer, has gained him thousands of followers! Zak is also a lead guitarist and back-up vocalist for The Afterthought. And though he is in high demand across town, as both a one-man act and, separately, as a member of a band, he has an aura of humility and humanitarianism. Here, he gets to tell us a little more about himself.
You have a lot of followers. What is the strangest experience you have had with a fan?
Not as many as I would like to have, but I can’t complain. I appreciate every single follower of mine. I love my fans. Nothing they can say or do will ever bother me! But other than the regular admiration, love and support I get, I had a fan who cooked home-made food for me every time she saw me at a show. I mean a huge casserole along with dishes (that I had to wash and return at the next show). Everyone knows it’s part of Kuwaiti culture to share home-cooked food with neighbors and friends, but it was just ‘different’ to see this person I don’t know walk towards me with a pot filled with yummy food! I don’t know of any other rock-n-rollers who have been through that! But for whatever it’s worth, that was a beautiful gesture of love. Thank you!
Every Wednesday, you perform regularly at Luscious Cafe and the crowd keeps growing. You are also in demand at other venues across the city. Is there more of an understanding of the importance of financially compensating musicians these days, or do we still have some work to do?
We definitely still have some work to do, but I can honestly say the general awareness from the public and business owners has shifted this last year! They are realizing how much of a difference live musicians make at an event – in terms of raising the frequency and the energy of the place. Plus, it always looks “better” in a social media post when you Snapchat your surroundings and see a live band in the background, right? The things we do for the sake of a “like”… Sigh!
The local scene was underground for eons. Now, we can no longer keep up with events. What happened, in your opinion?
Social media happened. It changed everything! You can’t keep things on the “down low” anymore. Everything seems to be public knowledge and up for everyone’s opinion. We used to travel to Dubai and other neighboring cities just to go see a concert! While there, we Snapped these wonderful moments and everyone back home watched, wondering why we couldn’t enjoy these moments here. This is something we could not do here for so long.
But if you want a really honest answer, it’s all about finances and profits! At the end of the day, businesses want to make money – and events and live music will do that. Ain’t nothing gonna stop them now that they know it’s a profit generator.
There is still reticence when it comes to dancing, due to cultural constraints; almost reminiscent of when The Beatles went to the USSR in the ’60s. The other day, someone at an event said: You can’t keep them down any longer. Agree?
Only time will tell. But I surely hope so! It’s like a boulder free falling from atop a cliff. It is gaining momentum with every second, and it’s going to be difficult to stop the fall. Some will try, but it’s up to us to keep this boulder rolling!
Finally, let’s zoom a little closer into your psyche a little. Surely, you get a rush both before and after performing. But, tell us: Which is grander?
Wow, that is a tough one! But for me, it is the ‘after performance’ rush! Before a performance, no matter who you are or how experienced of a musician, you still get “butterflies”. Well at least I do! Not nervousness, but the thoughts of putting in a great performance are always in the back of your head. But once the show is over, and you get that applause, it’s like no other feeling, ever!
Keep up with and find out more about Zak on his social media accounts: Instagram: @zakmusawi, Youtube: www.youtube.com/user/MrWhiteredvette and Facebook: Zak.M. You can follow Nejoud on social media @coexistkuwait or visit her website www.nejoudalyagout.com.
Photographs by Sameer Al-Abdullah @simsim29.